Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

The Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City Trailer Gets It Right

Do you remember back in the day when pre-rendered cutscenes were the coolest shit ever?

I sure do.

Back in the early days of CD based gaming, pre-rendered cutscenes, that is, ones produced outside of the in-game engine; seemed almost like a reward for playing some games.

Remember booting up Final Fantasy VIII for the first time?

Still don’t like that game, but damn that’s a good opening.

In most cases, cutscenes were used to bookend the gaming experience and/or highlight set piece moments that likely couldn’t be produced in-engine.

In keeping line with the (eventual) point of this article, Resident Evil games serve as a good example of this style of implementation for pre-rendered video, though the majority of the minor cutscenes were also produced in-engine.

I know I’ve used that clip before, but I don’t think I need a reason to justify re-using it.

On the other hand though, many other games, particularly in the early and mid-90’s, went so far as to “wow” gamers through essentially structuring the entirety of their gameplay around FMV.

For example, the early multi-platform game Braindead 13, in the tradition of Dragon’s Lair, was essentially one long interactive cutscene:

As was Cyberia, though with several shooting and adventure segments interspersed throughout.

In retrospect, many of these videos served to break up the flow of the gameplay of the games they inhabited, but back in the day, just the act of seeing full-motion video on a game console was akin to bearing witness to black magic.

Maybe it was just the fact that I was very young when it came to prominence, but to me, FMV in games was a big fucking deal.

Now that I’m older and decidedly more curmudgeonly and cynical, know that FMV has it’s ups and downs.

Perhaps one of the biggest “downs” that comes to mind, pertains to it’s use as an advertising tool.

It’s funny, for as long as I can remember, videogame advertising has been obsessed with finding ways to reel people in without showing a pixel of the actual product.

Pictured: An Earthbound ad. A failed experiment in "unjustified scratch and sniff" advertising.

Similar to a horror movie with a shitty-ass monster trying to sell itself by teasing but not showing said sad-ass monster in it’s advertising, videogame advertisers are a sneaky lot that get off on deceiving their audience.

It’s very likely that it’s just a cultural trend that just happened to grow up with me, but for whatever reason, most of the game ads I can remember throughout my life, both print and video; have done well to conceal the nature of the in-game product they were selling.

Hell, in the 90’s, it was far more common to see totally fucked up and insane imagery as game advertisements than it was to see screenshots of the actual games.

It was the 90's. Don't ask....

Guess that’s to be expected for an era when words like “radical,” “tubular,” and “EXTREME” passed as colloquialisms.

Now that I think of it, even the cover art of most American games was deceiving to some extent, often adopting an art style that was contrary to that of the (very likely Japanese produced) in-game product.

I’m rambling.

The point I’ve been trying (and failing) to lead up to with all of this, has to do with the new trailer for Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City.

In short, I thought the imagery was stunningly rendered, the action sublime, and all in all, I really liked it.

I’m still cautiously optimistic about the game, as though I love the setting of the game, (between #2 and #3, my favorites) as well as the concept, at the end of the day the thing just won’t work without decent gameplay mechanics.

That being said, while this trailer did nothing to address my concerns regarding the gameplay, it did do well by my in the sense that it did what many other pre-rendered trailers have failed to do in recent days:

It showed off actual gameplay mechanics, in the context of a pre-rendered video.

Allow me to explain.

Remember that super-duper overhyped pile of sappy bullshit that was the initial trailer for that super-duper overhyped plate of fuck-sauce that was Dead Island?

Remember how, with the exception of the location, the zombies, and maybe a homemade bludgeoning instrument or 2, absolutely nothing in that trailer was featured in the actual game?

Well, that my friend is an example of a game company trying to sell it’s “meh” product with an overproduced ad campaign.

While it’s entirely possible that Capcom is essentially trying to do the same thing with Raccoon City, I appreciate the fact that they took the time to inject their fancy FMV trailer with a few nods to the actual gameplay.

How did they do this, you say?

With all the subtlety of a sledgehammer, that’s how.

I don’t know if you’ve been following the development of Raccoon City with the same fervor I have, but if you’re at all in the loop, you’ll have noticed that many of the sillier and less organic moments in the trailer reflect actual elements of the gameplay.

For instance, there is a sequence wherein one of the Umbrella commandos notes that a man’s blood trail is going to attract zombies and other creatures.

Later on, a pheromone grenade is tossed during a battle, leading to one of the soldiers spouting exposition regarding it’s function in attracting monsters.

Throughout the trailer there are instances of melee combat peppered throughout.

Towards the end, there was a sequence where a soldier grabbed hold of a zombie and used him as a human shield.

All of the techniques listed above were confirmed to be usable in-game in some capacity long before this trailer dropped.

Not only that, the underlying story behind the trailer, the clashing of Umbrella and government sponsored troops amidst a battlefield of T-Virus creatures, fits the mission statement of the game to a “T”

In short, I’m proud of Capcom for putting their name on a trailer as beautiful and informative as this one.

Sure, the script was kind of shitty, (what Japanese-written English script isn’t?) but at the end of the day, I’m just happy the damn thing at least tries to exposit some of the gameplay mechanics despite the decidedly pre-rendered nature of the video.

Pre-rendered video trailers are a double-edged sword in many ways.

They are useful for building hype, in that they are often beautiful and cinematic in nature, however too often they pay far too little service as to the actual nature of the product they are selling.

In a perfect world, movies and games would be advertised strictly with materials cut directly from the source material, however when budgets get inflated to the point they’re at nowadays, I can see why production companies feel the need to put together these fancy ads on the off chance they might get a few more buyers than they would otherwise.

All it takes is a bunch of dumbasses thinking this represents what they buy when they pick up World of Warcraft:

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The Worst Comics I Own: Nemesis


Why I Bought It:

The irresistible writer/penciler duo of Mark Millar and Steve McNiven.

Mark Millar is far from my favorite writer, but he was on one helluva’ hot streak around the time Nemesis started printing, making it a must-buy book for me despite middling to fair reviews.

Why would I feel this way about a book written by a writer I’d describe as “far from my favorite?”

Well, shut up for a second and I’ll tell you.

The rule of thumb when it comes to Millar’s work, at least for me; is that many of his stories are only as good as his artists.

In this sense, when I heard Steve McNiven, one of my favorite artists in the industry, was going to be re-teaming with Millar for Nemesis, not just as the penciler, but as co-creator; I couldn’t help but be excited.

McNiven is a terrific artist, but he isn’t exactly the most prolific, making any work he does all the more special.

When the pairing of these 2 men results in the brilliance of Civil War, and Old Man Logan, one can’t help but have high hopes for their creator owned project involving a white clad “Evil Batman.”

Sadly, the resulting product was far from equal to the sum of it’s parts…

Why It Sucks:

To clarify, Nemesis is actually pretty far from “suck-y.”

In fact, it’s actually quite good at times, however only at the rate of about once or twice per issue.

Mark Millar’s strength’s as a writer stem from his tendency to test the creative limits of his artists in rendering Michael Bay-like set piece sequences and fanboy moments.

In case you forgot, he put VENOM on a T-REX.

His writing resonates most with an audience that isn’t afraid to tap their inner teenage self, and as such, his stuff can be a lot of fun if you’re willing to turn your brain off, laugh at poop jokes, and admire the pretty pictures for a few hundred pages.

That being said, Nemesis actually delivers in virtually every area you’d expect it to, however it does so clumsily and with less energy than one would hope.

The story makes itself out to be much more complicated than it actually is, and the characters are mostly bland, or in the case of the title character; impetuous and largely unlikable.

What’s more, backstory and history is largely ignored throughout, leaving most the characters feeling one-dimensional, and much of the plot feeling very much like like the writer is flipping you the bird and saying “Don’t worry, it’ll be explained in the inevitable sequel.”

Given that it’s a creator owned comic, consisting of entirely unique and unknown characters, I was totally prepared for generic characterization and poor plotting.

Like I said, Millar’s not my favorite writer, and as such, I was wholly expecting to have some problems with Nemesis on that end of things.

What really bugged me about Nemesis, was the fact that the art didn’t live up to my expectations.

Let’s get one thing straight:

By normal standards, Nemesis is one gorgeous fucking comic.

You could do a lot worse...

The problem is, when you’re dealing with Steve McNiven, normal expectations get tossed out the window.

I don’t know if he was working from a strict time table, or if the inker Dave McCaig fucked things up; but Nemesis just doesn’t seem to have the same love put into it that Civil War and Old Man Logan did.

It’s still great by most standards, but when you compare his pencils for Nemesis to his past works, they just don’t hold up.

Is It Still Worth Reading Anyway?:

Nemesis stands as a predictable progression of Mark Millar’s fascination with the concept of a realm of superheroes being dominated by it’s villains, (I.E. Wanted, Old Man Logan) and while it might not be the best permutation of it, it’s still fun in a brainless popcorn movie sort of way.

Like a big dumb summer blockbuster, many of the action sequences in Nemesis arrive without cause or meaning, robbing them of dramatic weight, however due to Steve McNiven’s stellar (but not exceptional by his standards) artwork; simply bearing witness to them can be thrilling in it’s own right.

While I didn’t care much for the characters or story, particularly the antagonist and title character, I can honestly say the brutal jailbreak fight sequence pitting Nemesis against 97 riot cops stands as one of the finest melees ever drawn in Western comics.

FUCK YES!

For this, and other such instances of over-the-top bloodletting, I’d say Nemesis is worth a read for anyone interested in that sort of thing (I.E. Me).

Just don’t expect to be sitting on the edge of your seat during the panels in between all the big action moments…

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Another Excuse To Play Resident Evil 4

Chances are everyone that gives a damn already knows about it, but today I found out that Resident Evil 4 is going to be re-released yet again on the Playstation Network and Xbox Live Arcade.

To my knowledge, this marks something like the 30th time the game has been re-released.

From what I read over at IGN, it sounds like this version of the game will include all of the extra items and bonus content first introduced in the Playstation 2 port of the Gamecube original, while also updating the visuals to accommodate high definition technology ala the God of War HD Collection on the PS3.

While I do indeed already own a copy of the PS2 version of Resident Evil 4, ludicrous as it may seem; I’m very much tempted to pick up this new version of the game once it comes out.

I don’t feel I’m exaggerating when I say Resident Evil 4 was and is a terrific game of near unmatched quality; and one that I’m always looking for another excuse to pick up and play again.

Despite being a sequel in a hugely successful franchise, Resident Evil 4’s gameplay mechanics represented a brilliant departure from the norm; spawning a host of imitators and raising the bar sky high for gamer’s expectations of breadth of content, quality of visuals; and precision of controls.

To date, I’m still amazed by the sheer volume of content contained within Resident Evil 4, as well as the attention to detail and overall cohesiveness of the overall package.

In a series known for consistent excellence, Resident Evil 4 was the most boldly different and groundbreaking entry; ranking just behind Resident Evil 2 in terms of overall quality by my reckoning.

Meeting Will Smith: An epic moment in an epicly awesome game.

It’s funny though, despite all my praise for Resident Evil 4; I still kind of bear a grudge towards it for being as fucking amazing as it was.

You see, 4 was so fuckin’ successful that it seems to have had the effect of causing Capcom to subscribe to the belief that the Resident Evil series should continue working from the formula it established.

Take for instance Resident Evil 5, which was essentially a sub-par carbon copy 4 despite being several years removed from it’s predecessor.

Leave it to Capcom to throw their hands up and say “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it”…

Megaman: 20+ Years of Same Shit Different Day

Personally, I’m still longing for the day when we’ll see Resident Evil return to it’s clunky, fixed camera, survival-horror roots.

Anyway, this was me simultaneously reminiscing about and announcing the re-release of Resident Evil 4.

Now, all they need to do is remake Resident Evil 2 with current-gen graphics and the same tender loving care that they gave to the Gamecube remake of the first game

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Thoughts On Marvel Vs. Capcom 3

It’s been 10 long years, but it’s finally happened:

Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 has finally become a reality.

While the overly dramatic statement above may speak to the contrary, let it be known; the Azn Badger has never felt any sort of excitement regarding the release of MVC3.

You see, I used to be a hardcore fighting game fan.

While I still bear a great deal of love for the characters of fighting games past, as I find them to be some of the most versatile and long-lived icons in all of gaming; when it comes to my actual skills as a player of fighting games, I’ve never been anything more than average.

That didn’t stop me from playing fighting games like a mad man… Up until the release of Marvel vs. Capcom 2.

You see, I have this friend; a Korean from Up The Street, (henceforth referred to as KUTS) who sort of ruined fighting games for me.

Like many Koreans tend to do, he became enamored with the mechanics of the game, to the point in which dedicated himself to becoming an utter beast at the game.

Seriously, the guy’s been competitive with Top 10 Evo players.

Fielding his Storm-Magneto-Sentinel team, KUTS would go on to repeatedly thrash me in MVC2, and virtually any other fighting game; in such emphatic fashion, as to utterly crush my desire to play fighting games with any degree of seriousness from that point forward.

That being said, KUTS has been consistently playing MVC2 for the past decade.

Or at least until today, when it’s long awaited (or in KUTS’ case, dreaded) sequel was finally released.

Friend that he is, KUTS was kind enough to invite me over to play a few rounds of MVC3 with him.

Introductory reminiscences aside, here are my thoughts, as well as some thoughts from my buddy KUTS, regarding our impression of MVC3 thus far:

Gameplay

MVC2 is regarded as one of the most hardcore of fighting games.

It’s gameplay is some of the fastest around, and the precision required in it’s button inputs are tuned to near perfection in the eyes of many gamers.

It’s this frenetic, yet exacting gameplay that makes MVC2 one of the least accessible, but most rewarding fighting games to date.

That being said, when you take the pinnacle of fighting game precision, and “dumb” it’s mechanics down in favor of creating a simpler, and more accessible game; the end result is a game that will appeal to fighting game novices, and likely infuriate experienced players weened on more nuanced games.

Needless to say, both KUTS and I were largely unhappy with the mechanics of MVC3.

While I’m certainly no expert player at any fighting game, I noted a great deal of frustration coming off of my buddy KUTS as we played; largely due to the slower gameplay and questionable control accuracy.

If I were to compare the experience of playing MVC3 to any other fighting game, it’d have to be the crap-fest known as Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, and the bore-fest that is Street Fighter IV.

Like both of the aforementioned games, MVC3’s control feel as if they “help” you a little too much.

What I mean to say is, in all 3 of these games; it often feels like the system gives you the benefit of the doubt for technically flawed or incomplete button inputs.

While Street Fighter IV requires a very precise sense of timing to execute effective combos, I can’t tell you how many times I found mysel pulling off special attacks, or complex chains in these games; seemingly by accident.

Make no mistake, even if I’m not an expert, I know how to play most fighting games; and few things frustrate me more than playing a fighting game seems to want to play itself.

Seriously, KUTS and I were joking that you could probably pull off a hadoken in these games simply by holding forward and mashing the punch button.

In addition to the stupid-ification of the gameplay mechanics, MVC3 also takes things a step farther by changing up the control scheme a little bit.

Assists are now assigned their own buttons, with the depressing of either of which for a second or so resulting in the tag command.

To my knowledge, there is only 1 kick button now, a button which I found myself rarely using for whatever reason.

Finally, launch attacks, formerly a command executed by pressing down-forward and fierce punch; have been given they’re own button as well.

While I found the launch and kick button situation to be odd, and difficult to wrap my head around, I’m guessing the changes were made to appeal to fighting game novices.

Of these changes, the one that I found to be somewhat intuitive was the merging of the tag and assist buttons.

Maybe it’s my tiny Japanese hands, but the simultaneous button presses required for the tag function in previous Vs. games was always something I had trouble with; making this simplification a welcome one in my opinion.

One last note:

The game seems slower, and super jumps are harder to direct in a Castlevania, momentum-based sort of way…

Roster

The roster of MVC3 is a decent mix of the classic and the eclectic.

Seriously, count me in as one of the people that thought we’d never see the likes of Dormannu in a videogame.

Oh yeah, and SUPER MAD PROPS to whoever got Capcom to put Taskmaster in the game.

There are around 20 fewer combatants this time around, with more variation between each entrants play styles serving to balance things out in some capacity.

While I can’t speak to the effectiveness of any of the characters as of yet, it’s worth noting that many of the character’s attributes seem a little unbalanced.

For instance, Phoenix is easily one of, if not the fastest character in the game; however she also happens to be fragile as tissue paper.

Seriously, one time I managed to take her down to half health with only 6 weak punches, using Viewtiful Joe no less.

Not only that, Magneto has been nerfed in every way imaginable, and Thor seems overpowered, despite his godly-status.

All that aside, I’m decently satisfied with the roster at this point.

Capcom did a good job of varying the play styles of the characters, and many are represented well via their movesets and animations.

I will say this though, Chris Redfield’s voice clips are hysterical.

Seriously, with phrases like “Eat it!”, “Taste it!”, and “Suck it!”; the man is a poster boy for the UFC generation.

Move over Brock, there’s a new meathead in town…

KUTS’ Team Thus Far:

Storm, Sentinel, and MODOK or Storm, Sentinel and She-Hulk.

Closing Thoughts

Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is a game for fighting game/Marvel fans, not the hardcore.

While it has yet to be seen what strategies or nuances can be uncovered in the gameplay for MVC3, if you ask me; or my buddy KUTS, whatever’s there isn’t going to measure up to MVC2.

That’s not to say MVC3 isn’t a worthy effort, as it is; it’s just not the same Marvel.

I will give it this though, MVC3 does have it’s predecessor beat in the presentation department.

10 years makes a world of difference in the world of videogames, and while I was fully prepared to hate the aesthetic of MVC3 based on it’s preview footage, I found I warmed up to it after awhile.

The character models aren’t as detailed as most contemporary fighting games, but the menus are designed well, the voicework is largely acceptable, and the damage effects and splashiness of the special attacks are actually quite stunning at times.

Consider that the one compliment I pay to MVC3.

Anyway, these were just my thoughts, feel free to disagree, ’cause they’re my thoughts and frankly I don’t give a shit what you think.

Thanks for reading!

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New Jurassic Park Game

Let it be known, the Azn Badger loves him some Jurassic Park.

Since day one, Jurassic Park references and tributes have been the norm here on this blog, and today is no exception.

You see, not long ago I was flipping through an issue of Game Informer, within which I happened to take note of an article regarding an upcoming, current-gen Jurassic Park videogame.

Looks good, but not great. Any JP is good JP though...

While the screenshots included in said article were not exactly the most flattering, bearing texture work and visual fidelity decidedly below par for the glitzy game market of today; I was relieved to find that the game will indeed be released as an episodic, downloadable product, as opposed to a full-priced retail item.

While it saddens me that my beloved JP-Jurassic Park-“Something Has Survived!” franchise won’t be getting a huge budget videogame of the game changing, eye candy laden variety worthy of the fanfare that the original film received back in the day; it pleases me to know that the game is (for once) being developed by competent human beings.

Jurassic Park: Warpath - Yes, I did in fact rent it. It sucked. MIGHTILY.

Keystone proponents of the steadily fading (but at once, loved) graphic adventure genre of gaming, the very capable people over at Telltale Games will be the ones’ responsible for doing digital justice to the house of Hammond.

Jurassic Park geek-speak aside, it’s worth noting that the new game will indeed take place in John Hammond’s backyard, namely that of Isla Nublar; the setting of the first Jurassic Park book/movie, and the site of the actual park of the series’ namesake.

Based on what I’ve read, the story is based around the exploits of Dr. Gerry Harding, AKA the park associate that was examining the sick triceratops in the first film.

"Hi, I'm a fuzzy image that may or may not represent a character in a movie!"

The actual time frame of the game explores the plot of the book/movie in a fashion similar to that of how Resident Evil 3 connected to Resident Evil 2.

Forgive the bizarre analogy, my mind has a tendency to connect things via movie and videogame references…

*Ahem!* Taking place before, during, and after the events of the first Jurassic Park story, I can’t help but feel a little bit excited about the inherent possibilities of structuring a game from this perspective.

Think about it:

Who wouldn’t want see Jurassic Park as it was before it went to shit?

Who wouldn’t want to find out what happened to Nedry’s Barbasol can containing the stolen dinosaur embryos?

"Fat Guy In A Little Coat... Fat Guy In A Little Coat..."

Who wouldn’t want to raid John Hammond’s stash of ginger ice cream while the T-Rex is still traipsing around the Visitor’s Center?

I did mention I’m kind a Jurassic Park dork, right?

Anyway, the actual details of the gameplay for this upcoming multi-part series is still somewhat of a mystery at this point; based on Telltale’s track record, I have a feeling we can expect a more cerebral, and evenly paced experience than seems to be customary with today’s fast-paced, shooter-stuffed market.

Being as these guy’s were the ones responsible for bringing us quality budget titles like the new Sam & Max series, and the most recent Monkey Island games; I’d say Jurassic Park is in capable hands.

Rest assured I’m gonna’ be keeping my eyes on this one…

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Deadly Premonition Review

Deadly Premonition is a budget game.

Plain and simple.

Described by Destructoid as a “beautiful trainwreck,” Deadly Premonition is an open world/survival-horror hybrid developed by Access Games.

I first caught word of Deadly Premonition several months ago when I sat down to watch the first part of Spoony’s (Noah Antwiler) Let’s Play of it.

To my knowledge, that first hour or so of gameplay, is the only portion of the game that Spoony has posted any footage of.

Pictured: A man that has better shit to do than play a shitty game like Deadly Premonition.

After having played, and beaten the game over the course of 30 hours of gameplay, it’s easy to see why someone would so readily drop this game.

Deadly Premonition is a game that asks a lot from the player.

It has terrible graphics.

The soundtrack is extremely repetitive and is often times far too upbeat given the seriousness of the story.

The gameplay is equally repetitive, with controls approaching Resident Evil 1 levels of clunky-ness.

Knife vs. Zombie!? Not bloody likely!

For the most part, the only 2 saving graces of Deadly Premonition, are the strength of it’s writing, especially in regards to the characters, and the design of it’s surprisingly expansive map.

While the writing in Deadly Premonition is by no means brilliant, it has a a lot going for in that it’s just so damn quirky.

David Lynch’s Twin Peaks was a huge stylistic influence on Deadly Premonition, and it shows from beginning to end.

Numerous homages are made to the TV series in the form of the game’s setting, (a Pacific Northwestern town) as well as the unexplained abundance of cherry pie.

Oh yeah, and this kind of cryptic-ass fucked up shit:

"THE, SUIT, BURNS BETTER... LOOK!!! BURN'S SUIT! BURN'S SUIT!"

To call the characters in Deadly Premonition “odd,” is to discount the power of that word.

In the game, the player takes on the role of FBI profiler, Francis York Morgan, (his friends call him York) a facially scarred man that has a strong connection to the paranormal, smokes way too fucking much, has prophetic visions by looking into his morning coffee, and has a tendency to speak to an imaginary friend name Zach, often while in the company of others.

Well, looks like we caught him doing all of the above at once. His coffee is in between his legs...

If the above character traits aren’t intriguing to you even in the slightest, then congratulations, you are the snootiest high-brow motherfucker on the planet.

Pictured: You.

The game begins as York arrives at a fictional town in Washington called Greenvale.

Greenvale has recently played host to a gruesome murder/crucifiction, the investigation of which serves as the chief subject of the plot and gameplay in Deadly Premonition.

The closest thing to nudity you'll find on this blog. Except maybe the occasional dirty Donnie Yen photo...

The actual execution of the gameplay in Deadly Premonition, is that of a sandbox-style game, married with the over the shoulder shooting mechanic of Resident Evil 4.

Though I’m not much for sandbox games, I have to say, I was fairly impressed by Deadly Premonition’s take on it.

To be fair, I think most of my enjoyment of the map in the game springs from it’s impressive recreation of a Washintonian town.

Yup, a whole lotta' trees and little else...

As a life long, Seattlite, and one time Olympian, I can say with certainty, that the developers of Deadly Premonition really got the look and feel down pat.

The sprawling country roads, surrounded by evergreen trees, the big ass farms with seemingly nothing growing in them, the not quite picturesque lakes, it’s all there.

Haven’t you ever played GTA and wondered what it would be like if it was set in your hometown?

Then again, if you grew up in South Central, there's a good chance GTA strikes pretty close to home for you.

Well, if you’re from Olympia, Nisqually, or anywhere in Eastern Washington, Deadly Premonition; while not really possessing the vast breadth of sandbox-y goodness that GTA is known and loved for, absolutely gets the look just right.

If there’s any downside to the design of the map though, it’s due to the fact that it requires the player to drive around a little bit too much.

You see, unlike GTA, which offers a myriad of distractions while traveling from point A to point B, Deadly Premonition’s map is pretty sparse.

Pictured: Grand Theft Auto's definition of "distractions."

Sure, there’s fishing mini-games scattered about, as well as the occasional dirt road or hidden item, but for the most part, you really are just driving for minutes at a time.

Pictured: Deadly Premonition's "distractions."

Remember those country roads I mentioned awhile back?

Well, you better get used to them, ’cause if you start playing Deadly Premonition, your gonna’ end up driving up and down them like no other.

Let me put it this way:

The driving in Deadly Premonition is kind of like the sailing in The Legend of Zelda: Windwaker.

It’s boring, there’s altogether too much of it, but if you can force yourself to power through it, there’s actually a pretty good game beyond it all.

A pretty good game that I WILL beat someday...

Which brings me to the review proper.

Deadly Premonition is an okay game.

It’s not great, it has a shit ton of flaws, but if you’re willing to accept the game as being the best that it’s studio could manage with what they had, then it’s actually pretty good.

Trust me, it's a lot easier to appreciate Deadly Premonition when you grew up watching shit like Ultraman.

The murder mystery storyline is fairly well developed with some pretty cool kill sequences and red herrings thrown in for good measure.

The murders in the game involve a psycho-killer cutting out the tongues of young women, stuffing their mouths with red seeds, and then somehow rigging them in Saw-esque death traps for the main players to stumble across.

In all, while actually not very graphic or bloody, most of the murders are quite unique, and indeed even shocking due to the excellent voice work and dialogue.

Pictured: Why we always knock before we go into the bathroom...

The cast of characters is quite vast, with every character in town having a unique voice, personality, and even side-missions offer you from time to time.

Like York, most of the cast are endearingly quirky, such that I found I had no trouble remembering most by name.

The game is surprisingly long, with admirable pacing that sees the first half of the game being a largely sandbox style experience, with important story beats coming at the appropriate times, and the second half taking on a more urgent, and therefore more linear and focused style of progression.

That is to say:

The game allows you the freedom you desire from the outset to get to known the lay of the land, and collect all of those hidden goodies and side-missions, but just before you get tired of slogging through all of that, the game forces you get on track and follow the main storyline.

Deadly Premonition: A Story of Male Bonding.

The storyline has a few holes in it, such that you’re left scratching your head from time to time, but when focus is left on York, or any of the other main characters, it’s actually quite good.

I was particularly impressed by how they handled the explanation for York’s imaginary friend, Zach.

While the actual explanation was kind of muddled, I found it to be effective from a purely conceptual standpoint.

If there’s any one thing that I need to slap Deadly Premonition across the face about, it’s the game’s shooting mechanic.

About half of the gameplay in Deadly Premonition consists of Resident Evil 4 style shooting/adventuring segments.

During these sections, the player is confronted with goofy looking backwards walking ghouls that attack you by shoving their hands down your throat.

"GIMME' BACK MY TIC-TACS!"

There’s only a handful of enemy skins, and only about 2-3 different enemy types throughout the game, resulting in a bland and repetitive experience.

Worse yet, most of the enemies have horribly inflated lifebars, resulting in boring gameplay that takes forever to get through.

No joke, I put a third of a 300 round magazine into an enemy’s head one time, only to find that I had to stop to reload before I finally killed him.

That, my friends, is called padding one’s gameplay.

Pictured: About half of the total enemies in Deadly Premonition. I'm not even joking.

Being as all of these segments take place in a Silent Hill-esque “other world,” the creators of this game may as well have omitted the shooting segments altogether, as I think it would have been more efficient to simply force the player to run away from danger.

Anyone remember Run Like Hell? Shitty game, fun premise...

Which brings me to the quick-time segments of Deadly Premonition.

They were actually quite good.

While the button variations weren’t diverse enough, (B always dodges throwing axes) their frequency and difficulty level are pretty good.

I especially enjoyed the protracted chase segments, as they were actually quite tense, and made impressive use of a split-screen effect showing both York’s and the pursuer’s perspective at the same time.

Pictured: The Bad-Ass Pursuer. Playable at one point in the game!

In all, Deadly Premonition is an impressively detailed game for a budget title.

While it lacks polish in virtually every area, it’s easy to see where the developers had good ideas, but lacked the resources to act on them.

Requiring the player to eat, sleep, shave, and clean their wardrobe regularly was a nice touch that went well with the game, being as it forces you to play out every minute of every day in-game.

Pictured: My favorite suit in the game.

Well, that is unless you’re smoking to speed up time.

I enjoyed the deadline system for the story missions, as I found it fun to cruise around town all day doing side-missions, only to take a look a the clock and discover I only had 5 minutes before I had to be at the old mansion for an important story event.

Despite all of my praise though, Deadly Premonition is definitely only for those who, like me; can find it within themselves to play the game and accept it’s problems.

I picked up the game because I was intrigued by it’s characters and story.

I accept that it’s hideous, often times boring, and only has about a half dozen tracks of music.

Because of this, I simply cannot recommend Deadly Premonition to anyone but myself.

It’s not a game for everyone, but I happened to enjoy my time with it.

I’ll probably never touch it again, but it was fun while it lasted…

Filed under: Games, Movies, Tokusatsu, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Devil May Cry and the Azn Badger

Capcom’s Devil May Cry series is one that the Azn Badger desperately wants to love.

Honestly, I don’t really care much for the Gothic aesthetic of the series, nor do I have any sort of appreciation for the death metal soundtracks and overall overblown nature of the storylines and cutscenes.

So, what exactly is it that I do like about Devil May Cry?

That my friend, would of course be the bombastic, action-heavy gameplay of the series:

My introduction to the Devil May Cry came in the form of the 3rd, and best, entry in the series, Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening.

Yes, I am in fact aware that he is wearing a nipple-strap. The game STILL kicks ass...

Featuring the highest difficulty level in the series to date, as well as perhaps the best, or at least, most relatable storyline, Dante’s Awakening effectively ruined me from enjoying any of the other games in the franchise.

Let it be known, beginning a game series from it’s highest peak in terms of overall quality, and then working your way down is not the way to enjoy a videogame franchise.

That'd be like going from THIS to THIS.

You see, I really enjoyed my time with Devil May Cry 3 on my PS2.

I played it to death, nearly beating it on the hardest difficulty in the process.

After I finally grew tired of 3 though, I made the mistake of thinking it would be fun to work my way backwards and play through the first game in the series.

I skipped that sack of fail Devil May Cry 2 though, as I’ve heard nothing but bad about that one…

ASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!

From the moment I picked up the controller to play the original Devil May Cry, it immediately became clear to me that I was playing a vastly different, and far inferior game.

The gameplay was slower and less responsive.

The animations were less dynamic and felt very detached.

The attacks lacked the sense of “oomph” that was the highlight of the experience in the 3rd game.

Not only that, but due to the games’ age, the graphics and textures were somewhat lacking.

Yeah, I'd say there's a difference...

Needless to say, I found little enjoyment in playing the original Devil May Cry post-Dante’s Awakening, so much so that I saw fit to return it to Gamestop after only a few days.

Devil May Cry was a wonderful game for it’s time, serving as the progenitor of a new breed of fast-paced action games shortly after it’s release.

You see what you did Capcom!? You gave that piece of fuck Gackt an excuse to star in his own game!

Despite it’s laundry list of credentials though, being the first of something doesn’t necessarily make it the best, or in this case, anywhere near that level of quality.

Recently, I had the opportunity to play through Devil May Cry 4 on the Xbox 360.

Pretty fuckin' spankin' if you ask me...

After the beating the ever-loving piss and shit out of Devil May Cry 3 in decidedly epic-fashion several years back, I found Devil May Cry 4 to be somewhat tame in terms of difficulty.

In general enemies were easier to stun, and more importantly, easier to corral and manipulate, resulting in the gameplay being much more forgiving, and ultimately flashier than ever before.

Since the release of Devil May Cry 3, Capcom went on to reinvent the Resident Evil series, and indeed; much game design in general, with it’s 4th entry.

In the post-Resident Evil 4 world of gaming, context sensitive button functions were very much en vogue, predictably resulting in Capcom’s own Devil May Cry 4 including several instances of said gameplay elements.

In fact, awesomeness can be visited upon most enemies with a simple touch of the “B” button:

Cheap thrills yes, but thrills nonetheless.

Personally, I couldn’t give 2 shits about the new main character of Devil May Cry 4, a frustratingly emo little butt-pirate named Nero, (voiced by Adam the Black Ranger AKA Johnny Yong Bosch)

Pictured: Nero.

I will say this about him however:

His move-list is fun, inventive, and made all the better by the inclusion of the Devil Bringer in his arsenal.

The Devil Bringer is the chief innovation brought to the table in Devil May Cry 4, and for the most part, it’s worth the price of admission.

Trust me, yanking enemies over to your position for quick and efficient beat downs is a pleasure that far surpasses repeatedly Stinger-ing my way across an arena just to get to an out of reach opponent by leaps and bounds.

But then again, being able to do shit like this is pretty fun too:

While the game is a little bit on the easy side when compared to Devil May Cry 3, I’m willing to concede that that may in fact be a good thing.

Devil May Cry 3 was a beast.

It got off on taking eager young player’s confidence and shitting all over it like a fuckin’ pigeon perched above a Porsche.

... Yup, pretty much the visual I was going for.

4 however, is a prettier and more accessible game that even goes so far as to have a storyline (for those that give a shit) that requires virtually no knowledge of the prior games to understand.

Simply put, Devil May Cry 4 serves as a fine example of how to begin a series anew on a new platform.

In fact, I'd go so far as to say that it fared better than Resident Evil 5 in the console transition.

While not as good as 3, 4 was an enjoyable entry in a young series that was desperately in need of a #2 best game in it’s lineup, as up until it’s release, none of the other games could be at all regarded as anywhere near the level of quality of Dante’s Awakening.

I understand that I’m being critical of the series, but as I mentioned earlier, Devil May Cry is a series that I want to like.

So far we’ve got 4 games in the series, and I’ve only liked 2 of them.

I don’t like the art.

I don’t like the music.

I hate the storytelling.

All I play them for is the raw experience of playing the game.

In that sense, 1:2 ain’t a bad ratio at all.

KITTY.

Which brings us to the newest Devil May Cry game, one that, to my knowledge; is intended to be a massive diversion from the core series.

Uh, okay. I see what you did there, very nice... I don't get it.

Going by the name DmC, (Ugh…) this new game features a protagonist of a drastically different design aesthetic, as well as a game world that seems a little more urban, and less castle-like than previous entries in the series.

This would all be fine in my book, as I was never that attached to Dante or Nero as series’ protagonists, except for the fact that this new character’s design is just plain HIDEOUS.

Pictured: An ugly-ass, skinny piece of emo punk-fuckery that I honestly have ZERO desire to play as in a game.

At this point, all we have is a trailer to work from in terms of first impressions, however I for one feel my desire to give this game a shot slipping away purely based off of the character design:

That may sound petty of me, but unless DMC gets some truly fuckin’ incredible reviews chances are I’ll probably sit it out in favor of taking a step back and visiting some of other hardcore action game franchises out there, like the Ninja Gaiden series and Bayonetta.

Every now and again I have to ask myself: Why HAVEN'T I played this game yet?

Anyway, this has been a lengthy and intensely muddled post.

For this I apologize, but thanks for reading.

Filed under: Games, Tokusatsu, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Best Boss Music #3: Resident Evil 5

*SPOILER ALERT!* Anyone who doesn’t want to know shit about Resident Evil 5 should turn back now!

*Sigh* This might take awhile, so buckle down….

As one who’s been a fan of the Resident Evil franchise since its inception back in 1996, I’d just like to take a moment to say this:

Despite Capcom’s success in completely overhauling the gameplay of the series since Resident Evil 4, now that 5 has come and gone, I’m left wanting to go back to the way things were.

Resident Evil 4 was an amazing game, one that certainly deserves a place in the top 15 of best ever games, but at it’s core, it never really felt like a Resident Evil game to me.

Call me weird, but I actually missed the fixed camera angles.

I missed the stilted controls.

"Don't come any closer yah' zombie muddah' fuckah'! Imma' shank you man, I swear, Imma' shank yo' ass..."

Moreover, I missed having to occasionally run past my enemies due to lack of ammo.

"And on your right is a shaved monkey."

Resident Evil 2 was, and probably will always remain my favorite game in the series.

It was one of those games that just happened to “get” me at just the right time in my life.

I was young enough to actually care about the endlessly pantomiming and retarded sounding characters.

I was young enough to still be scared by the haunting atmosphere and crazy-ass monsters.

Not only that, I was dumb enough to think I was “cool” ’cause I beat the game so many fucking times.

Seriously, I beat that game more times than I’d care to admit.  Yes, I have beaten Resident Evil 2 more than once in one sitting.

Although this guy probably has me beat.

Anyway, the point I’m trying to make, is that, though I respect Capcom’s accomplishments with the 4th and 5th entries in the series, I would hate to see them fully discard the gameplay style of the older games in favor of the new.

Resident Evil 4 and 5 cast you as an action hero, an invincible, nigh infallible character that can’t leave a building without it exploding behind him.

Stallone: Man, Hero, WALKING EXPLOSION.

I’m sorry Capcom, but no matter how many times you tell me Secret Agent emo-swoosh haired Leon S. Kennedy is supposed to be badass, I simply won’t ever believe you.

No. Just, no.

Don’t get me started on Chris Redfield though.  Honestly, whoever designed his character model for Resident Evil 5 should get a big, fat, Blackanese slap to the face, ’cause what they did to him was just obscene.

Okay, so apparently Chris Redfield plays for the fuckin' New Orleans Saints in his spare time.

Remember when Leon got shot in Resident Evil 2?

He was injured so badly that he passed out.

Not only that, he wore bandages for the whole rest of the game as a reminder to the player that their homie done got shot.

"Ada, heads up! OoooooAAAAAAHHH!!!!"

How about that time when Rebecca had to make anti-venom serum for Chris in Resident Evil on account of him being to dumb to make his own?

Oh, I'm sorry. This picture has nothing to do with anything.

Moments of vulnerability in the player characters such as this were what made the survival-horror experience so much fun.

Thanks to savage-ass enemies like the Hunters, and in some cases the giant Ivy plants, players could find ways to drop dead around pretty much every corner.

"You! Human! I demand Clearasil...."

You were in mortal danger throughout the game, and there was little you could do about it except hoard ammo for your strongest weapon and pray you didn’t run out.

Resident Evil 4 and 5 give you money to buy bigger guns.

Good God I hope he's just selling watches.

Resident Evil 4 was great.

It was new, it was different, and everything it set out to do, it accomplished with flying colors.

On the whole, my heart holds no animosity towards Resident Evil 4…..  Although I am still upset with what they did with Leon’s character.

He was loud, naive and dumb in 2, how the fuck did he turn into James-Fucking-Kung-Fu/Knife-Fighting-Master-Bond by the time 4 rolled along?

Artist Rendering: James-Fucking-Kung-Fu/Knife-Fighting-Master-Bond

Anyway, my point is, 4 was good.

Resident Evil 5 however, bothered me.

I played the shit out of it, and enjoyed the experience quite a bit, but I was alarmed by how much content was recycled from the previous game.

Aside from the basic controls of the gameplay, little things like reused animations for the villager enemies were just a little bit strange to see given the platform transition to a whole new console generation.

In general, the game just felt exactly the same.

Even the level design was similar with the temple and military segments occurring at relatively the same point in the story.

That’s not a good thing when one game takes place in Spain and the other in a fictional region of Africa.

Pictured: Africa Butt-Raping Spain.

One HUGE objection I had to the storyline of Resident Evil 5, was it’s over-reliance on “Ouroboros” AKA those goddamn leeches from the decidedly below average Resident Evil 0.

Leeches.  Motherfucking giant leeches.

Remember how fun it was to fight the goddamn Mimickry Marcus in 0?

Wrong Marcus, but at least you're trying.

Well, guess what?  In 5, you get to fight a bigger version of him for virtually every boss fight!

Casting FACELESS giant leech monsters as a number of the bosses throughout the game robbed me of a lot of “wow” moments.

Yeah, not much to look at.

Part of the fun in previous Resident Evil games, was in always wondering what the fuck kinda’ crazy shit was gonna’ pop around the corner to tear off your face and use it as toilet paper.

The few times that Resident Evil 5 surprises you with it’s monster designs, you’re left not feeling blown away, but simply confused, as the unique creatures hardly fit into the game at all.

I'm lookin' at you random fuckin' crab boss...

While the gameplay mechanics one was required to utilize in combating these bosses was actually kind of fun, the lack of unique creature designs in Resident Evil 5 lead to me feeling that the game was a little dull from a visual standpoint.

Don’t get me wrong, the graphics are definitely next-gen, but the art on the other hand feels somewhat limited.

Well produced, just lacking in heart.

Man Lucas, I'm sorry to bring this one up again, but you had it coming.

Resident Evil 5 made a bold attempt at reaching out to its’ fans by inserting classic series villain Albert Wesker as the chief antagonist.

This worked out well for the games’ story by effectively tying together the “Las Plagas” storyline of 4, with the “Umbrella Corp” storyline of the older games, as well as the (crappy) “James Marcus” storyline of 0.

What it didn’t work out for me however, was the gameplay aspect of Wesker’s appearances in the game.

Third person shooters with clunky movement controls rarely benefit from having their final bosses be fast-moving, man-sized targets.

Just ask Syphon Filter.

Now THOSE are fuckin' next-gen graphics.

The problem with casting Wesker as the final boss, was the fact that it took the one real impressive graphical feat that the previous bosses had, namely their incredible size, and shit all over it.

Yeah, whatever. You'd still buy it.

The bosses in Resident Evil 5 are essentially glorified puzzles.

Though shooting them is at times an option, generally the way you are supposed to dispose of them is by finding what the game wants you to do to them, and do it over and over again.

In the case of the Bat Monster, the game wants you to make it walk onto some mines.

In the case of the Leech Monsters, ALL OF THEM, the game wants you to burn them when possible, and then shoot THE GIANT FUCKING GLOWING SPOT.

I ask you, when has it NOT been a good idea to shoot the BIG GLOWING FUCK-ME spots on an enemy?

And, in the case of Wesker, the game wants you to shoot him from out of sight, with a fucking rocket launcher, shoot the rocket (which he catches in his bare hands), and then punch him in the face until your partner can give him an injection.

Hah! You totally thought I was joking when I said he catches rockets, didn't you!?

While it was pretty to watch it all happen before me, the actual doing of fighting Wesker just plain felt dumb.

Requiring you to shoot Wesker from out of sight was Capcom’s lazy way of disallowing the player from simply standing in front of Wesker, taking aim, and shooting him in his noggin.

The way I see, if I can get a guy in my sights, and put a bullet in him, that should be a viable way of fighting, if not slowing him down.

But no, if you do this to Wesker, he simply enters an “evasive maneuver” animation cycle, thusly preventing you from landing any shots on him, even if they’re directed at his immobile legs.

Step-by-steo "shoot the hostage"

Maybe it’s just me being slightly spoiled by the prospect of next-gen consoles and their supposedly limitless potential, but when I see a viable solution to something as simple as shooting a bad guy in a game, I’d like to see the game at least try and give me a little leeway.

Of course, that isn’t REALLY the final battle, but the final battle in Resident Evil 5 sucked so bad that I’d rather not go into it right now.

The one thing in Resident Evil that I thought was TRULY FUCKING STUPID.

The final battles in the old Resident Evil games weren’t puzzles.

True, you had to use special weapons sometimes, or occasionally manipulate the environment a little to get the job done, but for the most part the whole experience came down to the player being forced to stand their ground and put rounds in some crazy, pissed-off mutant.

Pictured: A Crazy, Pissed-Off Mutant

It was simple and satisfying on a visceral level.

In short, it was more dramatic and horrifying, than it was bombastic and exciting.

Resident Evil 4 and 5 represent what happens when you let someone like Michael Bay mess with your franchise.

Actually, THIS is what you get in pretty much every Michael Bay movie. Fuckin' douche.

Wait a minute, this post was supposed to be about music, wasn’t it?

Well, going back to the Wesker battle, despite my general dissatisfaction with the whole experience, especially given the high-profile nature of the characters involved, one thing I will say is that it had some of the most epic and awesomely-good background music I’ve ever heard in a game:

Yeah, wow.

Resident Evil 5 was kind of enough to give us fully orchestrated tracks for most of it’s boss battles, with this one being easily the most impressive composition of the bunch.

Despite this, the majority of the soundtrack, outside of the orchestral work, is hardly memorable.

It was almost as if the music staff somehow exhausted themselves so much doing the awesome boss tracks, that they simply ran out of inspiration for the rest of the soundtrack.

Just listen here:

Personally, I thought this track was good and solid, just nothing to write home about.

In fact, “good and solid” seems to sum-up Resident Evil 5 in my eyes pretty well.

It’s by no means bad, in fact it’s pretty damn good, but the initial “wow” factor of Resident Evil 4 and it’s innumerable imitators, caused Resident Evil 5’s gameplay to become stale years before it’s release.

My gripes aside, hopefully you enjoyed the music, ’cause all this post was really supposed to be about before I went ahead and mucked things up.

Yeah, I do that sometimes.

With that, I leave you with Barry:

The REAL reason the old games are better...

Filed under: Best Boss Music, Games, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Toying with Time, A Story by Trevor Hart

Apologies to Capcom for my attempt at ripping-off their Hunter creature design from Resident Evil.

Love that line: “IT’S GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNNNE!!!”

Might have to do an audio recording of some of these stories someday…

Sorry for erratic, half-assed posts as of late, it’s been kind of a hectic weekend.

Filed under: Uncategorized, , , , ,

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